Classic Woolly Toppers Book Tour

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“Why do you wear a hat?” What you really should be asking is “why are you not?” *
I have always worn hats even in the dark days of the 1980s, when as a teenager I was laughed at for doing so. When my daughter was born in 1992 I engulfed her wardrobe with hats, both for play and dressing up and for ‘real-time’ use. Throughout her teens, hats have been once more, a fashionable item, and she has been able to wear her many, many hats without being ridiculed. To quote my hero, Stephen Jones, “Hats are the important accessory. ..when worn with verve, they are often the raison d’etre of many an outfit”. I believe hats complete an outfit and create a frame to a face, adding something that isn’t there without it. Imagine Marlene Dietrich here in ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ (1957) without her trademark beret.
Or Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in ‘My Fair Lady’ going to the races without one of the most famous hats in fashion history.
If I was asked to name three of my favourite hat designers, I would undoubtedly choose Stephen Jones, Cecil Beaton (because of My Fair Lady) and Woolly Wormhead. Woolly is without doubt a milliner in the truest sense of the word using knit fabric as her medium of choice to represent her constant stream of ideas. Like Stephen Jones, Woolly has been inspired heavily by natural forms and architecture but for her latest collection, Classic Woolly Toppers, has delved into classic hat shapes and styles, re-interpreting them in her own inimitable way and updating them for the ‘modern’ knitter. I am truly inspired by the way Woolly has looked at established hat styles and found a way of putting her own unique stamp on these and creating a contemporary, forward-looking collection.
Classic Woolly Toppers contains 10 fabulous hat designs perfect for all different face shapes and hair lengths. In fact, Woolly provides some very useful advice on picking the right hat. The patterns are clear and as always with Woolly, well written and carefully thought out. And to top all of that, my daughter the hat-wearer is on the front cover!
Copyright Woolly Wormhead
In this photo she is wearing the Camden Cap which shows how effectively Woolly has interpreted well-beloved hat shapes.
My favourite of the ten designs however is Ravine.
Copyright Woolly Wormhead
Closely reflecting the cloche hats of the 1920s, this hat sculpts itself to the crown of the head and frames the eyes and mouth of the wearer. It instantly made me think of the helmets worn in Fritz Lang’s ‘Metropolis’
and also of these crocheted cloches from a ‘Woman and Home’ magazine from 1930.


I really wanted to see how Woolly’s hat would look with a bit of vintage styling (and I wanted an excuse to make myself Ravine!) so I decided to knit the hat for myself. I used two balls of Excelana DK in Saharan Sand to go with my classic tweed coat and worked the hat exactly as specified for the fifth size in the pattern, which is for a 22 inch head circumference. I probably should have reduced the depth of the hat by about 4 rows to get an absolutely perfect fit but I wanted to see how my head shape compared with the pattern so I would know how to adjust in the future. If I had reduced the length by 4 rows I would actually have got the hat out of just ONE ball of Excelana DK. And here you have it. Ravine by Woolly Wormhead worn by yours truly! I’m still not used to seeing myself in photographs but I am really trying hard not to hate every single photo just because I’m it. However  I love my hat!
copyright Gavin Crawford
Copyright Gavin Crawford
It fits snuggly and naturally on the head. It frames the eyes exactly as it should. It feels and looks extremely stylish and is very, very warm. So does everything that a good hat should. Fabulous! And I added a brooch for a little vintage flourish.
So what better way to round off the blog tour than to offer a prize! For a chance to win a digital copy of Classic Woolly Toppers courtesy of Woolly Wormhead and two balls of Excelana DK in your colour of choice from Alabaster, Persian Grey, Cornflower Blue, French Rose, Ruby Red, Saharan Sand, Powdered Egg or Nile Green, just leave a comment telling me who is your favourite iconic hat wearer and why. They can be ‘real’ as in Marlene for example, or a character such as Holly Golightly. I’ll choose a winner at random on the 7th November. Please leave me an email address so that I can get in touch.
If you can’t wait to hear if you’ve won, you can purchase the book from Woolly’s website. The print edition is $16.99 and the digital edition is £9.
Good luck!
for now
Ruby xx
* (from Hats an anthology, by Stephen Jones, Published by V&A Publishing)


26 Responses

  1. Sam
    | Reply

    What a fab blog post! I think my favourite hat wearer is Badly Drawn Boy, I'm sure he has a room just for his hats… My email is 😉 just in case…

  2. Piia
    | Reply

    My favourite hat wearer must be the fabulous Fiona Timantti, a Finnish milliner and blogger. She combines vintage and modern elements in a perfect way.

  3. flossieKNITS
    | Reply

    I have to go with Holly GoLightly—I saw go big or go home!

  4. collegeknitting
    | Reply

    I love the hats that the Snow White character wears on Once Upon a Time. She always pulls them off so stylishly, which gives me ideas of how to wear mine! Thanks for such an awesome give-away.

  5. Sarah Knits
    | Reply

    I think that Kate Middleton has some stunning hats – I don't know who her milliner is but they look amazing. I have always had a thing for hats and as a teenager I had quite a few. These days they are mostly the woolly variety for dog and beach walking.

  6. ancebak
    | Reply

    I absolutely LOVE the Ravine – very charleston! My favourite hat wearer has to be Annie Hall (Diane Keaton). Her hat makes an otherwise very masculine outfit extremely feminine and shows just how important a hat can be to an outfit. My email address is

  7. BaronessVonVintage
    | Reply

    WOW, love that ravine!! I think Anita Page was an amazing cloche hat wearer!

  8. BabyLongLegs
    | Reply

    My favourite Hat wearer has to be Captain Jack Sparrow … aka Johnny Depp 😀
    His hat is well weathered, and fits his cheeky, swashbuckling character very well. It's the most vital part of his Pirate characterisation… oh, and it's Johnny Depp… 😀

    "Commodore Norrington, my effects please! And my hat."

    Awesome blog post, Susan…
    Much Love
    S xXx
    ♥ ♥ ♥

  9. Louiseluvsyarn
    | Reply

    Love the Ravine and the vintage twist!!

    Jay Kay from Jamiroqui has to be my favourite hat wearer – he never shyed away from making a statement with his hats even if the rest of his outfits were fairly 'ordinary'!!!

  10. Tallulah
    | Reply

    All the hats in the collection look fun to knit and very wearable! My favourite hat wearer has to be Anna Piaggi, an Italian fashion journalist and, for all-out crazy headwear, the Marchesa Casati. Thank you for the giveaway!

  11. Joanne
    | Reply

    All the hats look fabulous; I'm a big fan of wearing hats. As an archer, I'm going to have to be cliched and say Robin Hood's hat is very iconic for me.

  12. Unknown
    | Reply

    I absolutely love seeing you in your handiwork! Please please keep the lovely photos coming!

    My favourite hat-wearer is a friend of mine, Kay, she makes reproduction 16th century Dutch and German hats and wears them with such fearlessness and panache I want to wear them too.

  13. Peter
    | Reply

    I think that my favorite iconic hat wearer would be Tam O'Shanter from Burns' poem of the same name. For him and his folk the hat was not an accessory but a necessity. I have always worn hats and always will. These days you will most likely find me wearing a tam of my own making.

    I am Peter and I like your blog.

    my email is

  14. janine
    | Reply

    I think you look very fetching in Ravine which is my favorite hat from the collection. I guess I agree with you about Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Dolittle as having one of the most memorable hats I can remember. I love the race course scene and the fantastic costumes.

  15. Jules
    | Reply

    Trust me, you look amazing in your Ravine… it is so hard to see ourselves objectively, especially in photos!

    Thanks so much for the opportunity to land a copy of WW's new collection ; ) I vote for Carly Simon, mostly because her hats were so much part of her beautiful look that I can't imagine her without one.

    Happy autumn hat-wearing!

  16. Anita
    | Reply

    Anyone in a top hat and tails!

    (dianita at me dot com)

  17. Felicity Ford
    | Reply

    I love this post and especially the context and associations you are able to provide for "Ravine" which I have also been considering making. You've hit the nail on the head with Metropolis and those wondrous cloche pictures!

    I love how your version in Excelana turned out and I think it is a great look with your tweed jacket!

    All my knitbuddies speak very highly of Woolly Wormhead's designs. I must admit that I am very partial to a good hat, I have rather a big collection, but you can never have too many, and just the right hat can totally make an outfit… thank you for this wonderful post and well done on making such a nice version of Ravine! I shall immediately search for it on Ravelry, so I can add a wee "favourite" heart… it's gorgeous.

  18. Anonymous
    | Reply

    I'm not going for the elegant, sophisticated image. It's Halloween, so I have to say the wicked witch. Which wicked witch doesn't matter. All their hats are the same – big, black and very pointy.
    My runner-up would be Davy Crockett, closely followed by Crocodile Dundee.

    woolbothy on twitter

  19. Mim
    | Reply

    Your hat looks smashing – the placement of the brooch is perfect!

  20. Lyn
    | Reply

    Hs to be Agatha Christie's tuppence from Partners in Crime on ITV 3.

  21. Anna
    | Reply

    Faye Dunawaye in a little pillbox with veil in Chinatown, a beret in Bonnie and Clyde, and in floppy 70s felt hats. Wonderful! Love the new book, and your version of the cloche

  22. dutchess
    | Reply

    It may be cliche, but my vote goes to Princess Diana.

  23. Susie Hewer
    | Reply

    Charlie looks fab in the Camden cap which is my favourite I think.

    My iconic characters are my late father who always looked so smart when he put on his trilby to go to work and my late mother who always finished off her outfit with a hat. I couldn't choose between them!

    You look lovely in your Ravine but I couldn't wear that style as it wouldn't work with my glasses. Having said that I could wear in when I have my lenses in.

  24. Jill B.
    | Reply

    Ravine looks great on you! My favorite iconic hat-wearer is Bonnie Parker as made famous through Faye Dunaway and all those amazing berets! (dang, just noticed someone already said Faye!)

    jborders(at)ucla (dot) edu

  25. mancunianvintage
    | Reply

    Ooh crackin' hat missus! Lovely design and it looks so cosy.

    My favourite iconic hat wearer is Jackie Kennedy wearing one of her many pillbox hats.

    They look amazing on her, and I think she defined an era with her headgear.

    Just need to find myself a few…. 🙂

  26. Lyn
    | Reply

    Has to be Tuppence from Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime

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